Written by Whiterock alumnus, Roop Aujla.
I am a 43-year old man who has battled alcohol addiction for most of my adult life. I realized that I had gone from a social drinker to somebody with an alcohol dependency when it first started to affect my family life, work, and social life. The results were negative, but like many others I would come to know, I thought I could “deal with it” myself. I told myself that I could stop, or drink as little as I wanted, if I chose to do so. This was not true, however, and it took years of physical toll on my body and health consequences for me to seek help.
When I was finally ready to seek treatment, I was not sure of my options or where to look for help. My family physician sent me to Creekside for detox and I was given a referral to a treatment centre in Maple Ridge. I spent 42 days in-house at that facility and left feeling like I had finally gotten help for my addiction. I would soon learn that relapses are very common.
I relapsed within two weeks thinking I would just have one drink. That one drink turned into a five-day drinking session which resulted in my admittance to the emergency room and Creekside once again. I still wasn’t one-hundred-percent committed to getting help. I was ashamed and had been hiding my alcohol use for years. I felt I could just stop when I wanted. I wasn’t that bad, people just didnt know how much stress I had in my life. I would blame anyone or anything I could think of, but I wasn’t ready to blame myself and take responsibility for my actions.
This went on for many years: sober for a few weeks, then end up in the emergency room vomiting blood. Back home and sober for a few more weeks, until the cycle would repeat itself. After years of abusing alcohol, I was told by my emergency room specialists that the ethanol in the alcohol had punched holes in my esophagus and I was losing blood. I was given a blood transfusion and told that if I did not stop the alcohol abuse, I would eventually make things worse and I would die as a result of blood loss. I went home with the resolve that I wanted to live.
I had too much to lose. Watching my children grow up, get married, and raise their own families was in the forefront of my mind. I remained sober for almost a month until the bottle called me back one day. I drank until I felt I was going to die. I was shaking uncontrollably that morning, sweating with chills, dehydrated, vomiting blood, and unable to think clearly. I called and told my family that I needed help. I was afraid. My sister was able to find out about an Edgewood Health Network facility in Whiterock, near Vancouver.
Within one hour I was walking into the centre. I would later learn that the decision to go to Whiterock very well saved my life. From the onset, I received support and guidance. All my initial concerns were addressed by a counsellor who had joined the admissions person in the office. The nurse practitioner gave me medication to help with my withdrawal and the 24-hour medical staff monitored me closely for several days. I almost made the decision to leave due to financial issues, however the counsellor made me realize that I needed to stay and give it a chance. My life was more important than any monetary cost. To this day I am very thankful for meeting that counsellor and helping me turn my life around.
One thing about EHN Whiterock that made me happy was that I was never judged. I was treated like a member of their family and felt at home. The support workers, nurses, doctor, and counsellors really care about each person. The level of comfort was something I had not felt at previous treatment centres. The encouragement and positive day-to-day help that I received made me want to succeed that much more.
What surprised me about EHN Whiterock was that the number of people in their care was quite small compared to other residential treatment programs. The smaller group makes the classes and discussions more personable. You feel like opening up and sharing more than if it was a bigger group. We would eat our meals together in the kitchen area, attend our daily classes, have time for personal reflection, and spend the remainder of the evening together watching a tv show or just chatting. I still keep in touch with many people and get together weekly.
It was also helpful to be able to spend time with family and friends. Every sunday, family members or friends can come and visit. It was a great way to overcome any feelings of being homesick. A perfect way to recharge for the week coming up. As well, each evening you can call anybody you would like to speak to.
I came to finally realize that I needed to make the change in my life—it was up to me to change. Once I was willing to accept that, the staff at EHN Whiterock were there to support and guide me each step of the way. I learned a lot from the theories we were taught. The on-site doctor also prescribed medications to help me with anxiety, depression, and dependency issues. The combination of the above things has helped me tremendously.
I am healthier than I have been in years. I was able to go back to school at 43 years old and now work full-time in a job where I get the chance to help others. I have been sober the longest I have been in 15 years. I owe EHN Whiterock for helping me turn my life around. I will forever be grateful for the day I took the chance and walked into EHN Whiterock. I highly recommend this centre for anybody battling addictions. Thanks for everything, EHN!!!